Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Locals say syringe handouts draw criminals

Locals say syringe handouts draw criminals

Locals say syringe handouts draw criminals

A CENTRE for intravenous drug users has boosted local criminal activity and left people living in fear, some Phnom Penh residents say.

Residents of Psar Deumtkov commune in Chamkarmon district asked at a public forum held last Friday that the centre be moved out of their neighbourhood.

The meeting, held at the office of the Cambodian Journalists’ Club, allowed community residents to speak directly with representatives of Korsang, the NGO that runs the centre.

The residents complained the influx of drug users into their commune had increased crime and diminished safety. Since it opened in 2004, the Korsang centre has distributed free syringes to drug users and educated them about safer drug use in order to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and other illnesses.

Thong Chhornu, Psar Deumtkov commune chief, said he had received many reports of homes being broken into and valuables stolen. He believed the perpetrators were drug users drawn to the commune by the Korsang centre.

“Those drug users from Korsang cause disorder in the commune,” he said.

Yong Meng, 72, said that in addition to raising crime, the presence of drug users in the commune made residents feel less safe. “They gather in groups at night to inject drugs, so people here are afraid to travel at night. They even defecate everywhere. We’re not safe here.”

Kab Vannda of the Korsang organisation explained at the forum that the needle programme, rather than encouraging drug use, had the opposite effect.

“Our organisation works with addicts to help them stop using drugs. Before they receive clean needles, users are educated on the dangers of drugs and the importance of going for a blood test,” he said.

“We want to cooperate with the authorities in order to maintain safety and public order in the area. Our goal is to free this community from addiction.”

Chamkarmon Deputy Governor Prum Sakhan, however, said the authorities stood by residents’ claims. “Korsang helps the government fight drug use, but their drop-in policy is irresponsible.”


  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,